The I Inside review by Mike Long

I'm not a huge fan of "Whodunits". I typically find that murder-mysteries cheat the audience, giving us little chance to figure out who the killer is. However, I do like "Whoamis" -- that is, films where a character finds themselves suddenly placed in an alternate reality where they are forced to question who they really are. While these films can be just as confusing and misleading as a "Whodunit", no matter how far-fetched the resolution is, if the film is well-made, the audience finds themselves enthralled. The I Inside is a film that plays with this genre, with fairly positive results.

Ryan Phillippe stars in The I Inside as Simon Cable. As the film opens, Simon awakens in a hospital, with no recollection of how he got there, nor can he remember mcuch else. The year is 2002, but Simon believes it to be 2000. He is told by his doctor, Doctor Newman (Stephen Rea), that he been poisoned. Simon's wife, Anna (Piper Perabo) arrives, but Simon has no memory of her. Nor does he remember Clair (Sarah Polley), another woman who visits him in the hospital. As Simon is attempting to piece things together, he is suddenly transported back in time to the year 2000. Once again, Simon finds himself in the same hospital, but he has a different doctor, Doctor Truman (Peter Egan). Simon learns that he is there because he and his brother, Peter (Robert Sean Leonard), where injured in a car wreck. This news of his brother begins to jar Simon's memory. As he shifts back and forth in time, occasionally being pursued by a violent, masked doctor, Simon begins to put his life back together, revealing a complicated web of deceit and murder.

I've read some critiques of The I Inside on the net which compare the film to Memento. I'm not sure if these individuals saw the same film as I did, as The I Inside shares little in common with the Guy Pearce film. In fact, The I Inside is much more similar to movies like Jacob's Ladder and Brain Dead, although it is not as good as those films. The movie takes a character who is fairly certain that he has a handle on who he is, and then we get to see reality unravel around him. While this can often be confusing, The I Inside does a very good job of taking a moment to allow the more jarring moments (such as when Simon suddenly travels back in time) to sink in for the viewer. The film takes a huge risk have Simon's transitions transpire between the same location (unlike Jacob's Ladder, where Jacob Singer moved between New York City and Vietnam). The film's best asset is the way in which the story unfolds, as we are given the information about Simon's past piece-by-piece (as he remembers them), thus taking the viewer along for the ride.

The I Inside was written by Michael Cooney (based on his play "Point of Death"), the screenwriter of the impressive Identity , but the film's twists and turns aren't quite as impressive as the ones in that film. While The I Inside is an impressive thriller, the story begins to fall apart near the end, and the finale is confusing and not wholly satisfying. And while it's a trait of these films to be somewhat redundant, the scenes of Phillipe running up-and-down the halls of the hospital get old after a while. I can certainly see how many would tire of waiting for the ending to come. On the plus side, the acting in the film is good. The oft-maligned Phillipe must carry the film and does a fine job with the range of emotions which he is asked to show. The rest of the cast is good as well, especially Stephen Rea. The I Inside is certainly an above-average psycho-thriller and it falls squarely into the "This movie is full of people that I've heard of and it's not bad why didn't it play in the theaters?" category. If you want some good twists, it's worth a rental.

The I Inside travels to DVD courtesy of Dimension Home Video. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The transfer looks fairly good, as the picture is sharp and clear, but there is some noticeable grain at times. The movie contains many dark shots, but the action is always visible during these scenes. The colors look good and there are only trace elements of edge-enhancement. The DVD has a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and shows no indication of hissing or distortion. The film features many scenes which take place during a storm and the rain sound effects come off nicely through the surround sound channels. There are no extra features on this DVD.

6 out of 10 Jackasses
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